Bibliographic Citation: Katz, Jon. Geeks: How Two Lost Boys Rode the Internet Out of Idaho. New York: Random House, Inc., 2000. 207p. ISBN: 978-0-37550-2989.
Best Books for Young Adults Top Ten list, 2001-2010
In Geeks, Jon Katz tells the story of Jesse and Eric, two working-class teenagers from Idaho, who take their passion for technology and use it to escape their dead-end lives and create a new reality for themselves.
I must admit, I was skeptical when I checked out Geeks by Jon Katz from my local library. Though I enjoy technology to a certain extent (I love my iPod and MacBook Pro), I don’t live for it the way many people my age do (I still don’t have a smartphone). I was concerned that much of the content would be lost on me, and that because of this I wouldn’t enjoy it. However, I loved it! While technology certainly plays an important part in the story, the book’s human characters and their desire for community, their desire to belong, make it universally relatable.
When researching geeks and their ascension to power for a book, Jon Katz met Jesse Dailey (over email…of course). Jesse and his roommate Eric Twilegar, both nineteen, were living in Idaho at the time. Both worked dead-end jobs and their social lives were non-existent. Their childhoods and family lives had been difficult, and both felt that they just didn’t fit in. However, when Katz suggests that the two leave Caldwell, Idaho, saying “geeks can get jobs anyplace. People everywhere need people who can maintain, repair, and understand computer systems,” it inspires the boy to leave their unfulfilling lives behind and recreate themselves (Katz, 2000, p.14). With little money to survive on and no jobs lined up, the boys head for Chicago. There they discover the many opportunities available to geeks like themselves.
Katz’s Geeks demonstrates how the explosion of the Internet not only creates a desperate societal need for geeks, but also provides them with the sense of community they had been previously missing. Jesse and Eric’s technological expertise made them employable well beyond their nineteen years, and also allowed them to connect with people in a way that they weren’t able to in ordinary life. The book proves that it’s more satisfying to accept yourself as you are than to struggle to fit in, an encouraging message for young adult readers.
Also by Jon Katz, dedication page, acknowledgments, TOC
About the author